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"Quo vadit poesis?": The Present State of Italian Poetry Erasmo G. Gerato Florida State University The Italian peninsula has been blessed with a unique poetic experience this century. There has been such a variety and abundance of not only poets but of diverse poetic expositions, tendencies, directions, and distinct schools of thought that in at least two cases, the Futuristic and Hermetic movements, we can speak of a total Italian experience. Never as in this century has Italy been faced with so much production and so many distinct literary movements. The century begins with Corrado Govoni, Aldo Palazzeschi, and Sergio Corazzini, Symbolist-Crepuscular writers who were indirectly influenced by the great French Symbolists Mallarmé, Rimbaud, and Verlaine, and more directly by the later Belgian Symbolists such as Samain, Thailhade, Moréas, Verhaeren, Rodenbach, Maeterlinch, and Jammes. As a result of their study of these Symbolists, the Italian Symbolist-Crepuscular poets accentuated melancholy and sentimentality. This is particularly true in the cases of Sergio Corazzini, in whom these feelings reach the ultimate realm of an outright malady, and ofGuido Gozzano and Marino Moretti, whose works often approach the greater poetry of this century after the abandonment on their part of the aesthetic experience of the teachings of Gabriele D'Annunzio. Gozzano's masterful use of irony truly helped to change the course of Italian poetry. When we speak of the greater Italian poetry of this century, in addition to the unrivaled contributions ofUmberto Saba and Giuseppe Ungaretti, we must also add the works of the two Nobel laureates, Salvatore Quasimodo and Eugenio Móntale. The latter is undoubtedly Italy's most acclaimed writer in this century. The post-war period has seen a number of diverse poets who span from the New Classical approach to the Hermetic, from the New Realism and Naturalism to Experimental and Neo-avant-garde writers like Zanzotto and Edoardo Sanguinetti. To the above, one must also add those who have championed the use of their local dialects and who accentuated even further a traditional tie to the land and to ancient folklore. One of the most valued contributions in the field of Italian literature for the year 1986 has been an annotated critical anthology of modern and contemporary poets by the distinguished critic EHo Gioanola, Poesía italiana del Novecento testi e commenti. In addition to the accurate textual explanations accompanying each individual poem and the introductory passages for each artist, the sections on the various literary movements ofthis century confirm the superiority ofthis anthology, the best to date in our opinion. On the negative side, however, of the 45 poets included in the anthology, the reader will not find a single woman poet. As Gioanola's presentation makes clear, he was quite aware of this lacuna and his attempts at justifying it strike us as even more deplorable. But in Gioanola's favor we should note that in an unprecedented move, he invited Giorgio Caproni, perhaps Italy's most acclaimed living poet and winner ofthe prestigious annual prize, "Il Pasolini," to introduce his anthology. The peculiarity of this invitation lies primarily in the fact that Caproni 279 280Rocky Mountain Review himself is not only one of the writers included but the one who receives the most coverage after the poet Eugenio Móntale. This gesture on Gioanola's part produces quite positive results in the praise that Caproni eventually bestows on him. While acknowledging his difficulty in introducing an anthology in which he appears, Caproni succeeds in initiating a discussion on poetry itself. He first laments the state of Italian poetry and the unfortunate lack of popularity ofthis art form outside Italy. Searching for possible answers to help explain this, he sees the problem as one that arises from an overabundant production in which he likens the writing ofpoetry to the making ofhomemade egg noodles. He states, "É che in Italia tutti scrivono 'poesia' ma pochi si sa ne leggono. Quasi che ciascuno si reggesse su questo ragionamento: 'Perché dovrei comprare e leggere poesia altrui, quand' io me la faccio da me in casa mia, come le tagliatelle?' " (6). He concludes that there would be nothing wrong with "making one's own egg noodles at home...


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